Drill presses have been around for a long time and are one of the most important and versatile tools in the workshop of any hobbyist or professional woodworker. But what is a drill press used for? That is something you’ll discover in this article.
A drill press is a versatile power tool that can be used for making accurate (pilot) holes, countersink holes, deburring, reaming or enlarging holes, tapping, and sanding. This can all be done safely thanks to a powerful motor at variable speed.
This tool is versatile and can be used for more than simply drilling holes. Many people don’t know how to get the most of their drill press. That is why I created this detailed article to help you better understand a drill press machine and how to utilize it in your workshop.
Read on to get answers to all the questions about the drill press, such as what is a drill press, what is a drill press used for, and how to use a drill press.
Also, this article will teach you how to name all the parts of a drill press so that you know precisely what you’re talking about.
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What is a Drill Press?
The drill press, also called a drilling machine, is a type of drill for making holes and many other operations. The drill bit can be mounted on a fixed drill head, which means that you are always assured of the correct drill angle, unlike with a hand drill.
The drill is clamped in a chuck mounted on a rotating spindle. This chuck can clamp the drill thanks to three jaws that move radially simultaneously, or by means of a tapered shank. After clamping the drill, it can be inserted into the workpiece using the lever movement with the handle. In some professional machines, there is even the option to automatically drive the drill into the workpiece.
To avoid accidents and make work easier, the workpiece is usually clamped in a vice on the table of the drill press.
The spindle speed can be set to the speed required for the operation you are doing by the meaning of a belt or electronic settings, depending on the type of drill press.
Drill presses for hobby use or simple use by professionals in general workshops usually have only one spindle. However, drill presses can be custom-built for specific drilling operations.
Why use a drill press?
To drill holes in wood, metal, or other materials, you can choose between using a drill press vs hand drill. If you want more information about which one to select, be sure to check out my in-depth article, Drill press vs hand drill (Which one to use when).
Using a drill press has several advantages, which you need to see before we can move on and answer the main question, what is a drill press used for.
When you work with a drill press, you can be sure of the accuracy with which you work, you can work at an adjustable speed, you have a motor with high power, and all this in a pretty safe way. When compared to a standard drill, versatility, and functionality are also increased.
Accuracy: The main reason you should use a drill press is for accuracy. No instrument outperforms the drill press when it comes to producing precise and similar holes with the same depth, angle, and width.
Variable Speed: The speed may be simply modified depending on the type of drill or operation being performed. You won’t have to worry about drilling with the right settings. You get a perfect hole every time.
Take a look at my article, “What Speed to Use for a Drill Press”, to find out which speed is ideal for the operation you’re doing or the drill you’re using. You’ll learn all you need to know about setting the right speed for it, step by step.
Engine Power: Drill presses contain strong motors that are ideal for drilling huge holes or drilling through hard materials. Because of the motor’s tremendous power, most tasks can be accomplished with little effort and precision.
Along with the strong motor, there’s a handle that doubles as a lever, allowing you to simply manipulate the chuck and spindle for easy hole-making.
Safety: When used correctly, a drill press is far safer to use than a normal drill. You have complete control over what happens thanks to the right speed, a clamped workpiece, the fixed drill, and the drill press’s toughness.
Drill press accidents, on the other hand, are unavoidable. Analyze the threats before you start to work with a drill press. Drill Press Accidents Happen Every Day: 9 Tips To Stay Safe was written to make you aware of the hazards of a drill press and to prevent you from accidents. Before you start using the drill press, read this first!
Functionality: Another reason these devices are necessary for your shop is their utility. With this power tool, you can drill straight holes or drill at an angle, but a drill press machine can also perform additional tasks including depth control. The more you use a drill press, the more you’ll learn about its features.
Versatility: These machines can do a lot more than just drill holes. My drill press is commonly used as a spindle sander. By using a drill press with a homemade spindle and sandpaper, I can now change materials quite quickly.
You can see how I made this in one of my first YouTube videos here.
By placing the workpiece straight into the chuck, I can sand bits of wood faster and easier with the drill press.
In combination with a mortiser you can cut square and rectangular holes, making it ideal for making any sort of wood connections.
What is a drill press used for?
Let me go through the most typical applications of a drill press now that you’ve learned why you should use one.
Drilling holes: This is the most logical function of a drill press, as well as the one that is utilized the most.
Drill presses are a better alternative than conventional drills since they can produce precise holes of the same size, angle, depth, and breadth.
In addition, the drill press’s rotation speed may be fine-tuned and varied as needed.
If you need some inspiration to know what drill bits you should have in your workshop, check out my article, 7 Essential Types Of Drill Bits For Woodworking.
Make countersink holes and/or deburr: Burrs may need to be removed or a countersink hole constructed after a hole is drilled so that screws are flush with the surface.
These activities are incredibly exact and simple using the drill press.
Reaming or enlarging a hole: When a hole needs to be enlarged precisely, a reamer on a drill press can help. A reamer is a drill bit that is narrower at the top and gradually widens. This makes it possible to work very accurately. A reamer should not be confused with a step drill that enlarges holes with fixed and increasing diameters.
A reamer is more likely to be used in metal works.
You can easily achieve the precise result by inserting a reamer or step drill into the hole at a constant and slow speed.
The step drill is one of the recommended boring tools you should have, I recently described in this article.
Tapping: A power drill is perfect for cutting threads in a hole, which is required for several creative projects. The taps and dies are extremely fragile, and keeping the threads aligned requires a great deal of accuracy and measures.
Sanding: You may rapidly and correctly sand down edges and be certain of the squareness of the surface by converting your drill press into a spindle machine.
Parts of a drill press
If you wish to talk about a certain part or name parts of the drill press, you’ll need to know what they’re called. It may be quite useful if you need to explain something about a certain part to someone, ask for advice, or place an order for a replacement part.
Below, I will discuss the most important parts of a drill press.
Drill chuck: It is where you will keep your drills and milling cutters. On the side of the chuck, there is a little hole for a wrench. This key locks and unlocks the chuck, allowing bits to be inserted and removed. In most situations, the drill head that comes with your drill press is the JT33. It can happen that the drill press chuck just comes loose while working. To solve this problem my article, why does my drill press chuck keep falling out can help you.
Chuck arbor: The arbor is a long metal rod that links the chuck to the shaft, which is the revolving mechanism run by the motor. This is frequently a tapered press connection, which means the chuck is only held in place by friction.
Spindle: The drill press’s spindle is linked to the motor by a belt.
The motor, the belts, and the head: The drill press motor is a high-torque electric motor that uses belts in the head to operate the machine. The head is little more than a protective cover for the belt and the machinery inside. You may change the drill press’s speed by changing the location of the belts on the pulleys.
Base: The drill press is secured to your workstation or floor by the base. It also has slots for screwing the machine in place. This is required to guarantee that there is little vibration and runout when working.
In this base there are (most of the time) slots. In my article, What Are The Slots In A Drill Press Base For? A Clear Answer, you will find out what they aren and how to use them correctly.
Column: The drill is supported by the column, which links the head to the base. The table is fastened to the column, which is built of a robust tube that can be lifted and lowered.
Handle: This changes the drill’s depth in relation to the table. Every time you drill, you use the handle to control the bit’s depth.
Table: The drill press supports your work. The table’s height may be modified for different jobs, but once you start editing, it stays the same. The table has slots carved into it that you may use to secure your vise.
How a Drill Press Works
Drill presses are innately accurate, unlike handheld drills, which rely on arm strength and operator stability to drill a precise, clean hole.
The rotation of the strong motor is transferred to the drill chuck through the belt. You may descend the spindle with the drill chuck attached to it vertically using the turning handle. Making perfectly exact holes becomes significantly easier as a consequence. On all models, a depth stop is included to ensure a consistent drilling depth.
Drill press vise clamp
To avoid most movement, and at the same time to prevent drill press accidents, it is always a good idea to secure your workpiece in place. There are two ways to secure a workpiece.
The first way is to use clamps to bind the workpiece to the table. Clamps are ideal for larger or irregularly shaped workpieces, but they are inefficient for smaller things.
The second alternative is to use a drill press vise. These are suitable for thinner workpieces that fit in the relatively limited space between the vise jaws.
A drill vise is a tool that can secure a workpiece so that it cannot move when the drill is driven into it. A vise for a drill is similar in appearance to a standard vise. Some vises attach to the table, while others attach to the table through the miter hole.
Working with a drill press vise is simple. Once the location of the first hole is determined, the vise is set in place and tightened, and the hole is drilled.
Clamping a workpiece will prevent it from being caught by the drill bit and spinning at a high speed. This can cause serious injuries. The use of a drill press vise drastically reduces the risk of this type of accident.
So, keep this in mind the next time you work with your drill press.
You can easily make a drill press vise yourself. I made my vise out of plywood and use it for almost all the drilling I do with my drill press. In my article, “How To Make An Easy DIY Tilting Angle Drill Press Vise” I explain step by step how I made this tool, and you can also download plans for free. I strongly recommend that you also make this tool, so you can always work safely with your drill press.
How to use a drill press
Now you know the answer to the question, “what is a drill press used for?”, you need to know how to use a drill press.
Before you take action, you should disconnect the drill from the power supply and read your drill press manufacturer’s instructions.
To repair yourself for drilling, here are a number of steps that you need to take when using the drill press.
Step 1: The first and important step is to set the correct speed.
The speed on most drill presses can be adjusted by moving the drive belt from one pulley to another. Keep in mind that, the smaller the pulley on the chuck shaft, the faster it spins. You can find more information about setting the correct speed of a drill press in this article.
Step 2: Select the appropriate drill bit.
Open the chuck, insert the bit, clamp the chuck around the bit shaft by hand, and tighten the chuck’s three jaws with the wrench. Always remember to take the key out of the lock. If you don’t, when you switch on the drill, it will transform into a hazardous projectile.
Step 3: Make sure the table is at the proper height.
Adjust the height of the table by loosening the crank. You may clamp the table again after it’s at the proper height. I use a rule of thumb to determine the proper height: allow at least an inch between the drill and the workpiece.
Step 4: Measure the depth.
Lower the drill bit to the necessary height and set the depth gauge’s knurled nuts to the proper stop position. The bottom nut should hold the spindle in place, while the other secures the first nut.
Step 5: Secure the workpiece.
Before you start using your drill press, make sure that the workpiece to be drilled is secured in place. The drill bit may attempt to grip and rotate the workpiece, posing a potential hazard. You can use a drill press vise for this.
Once the drill press installation is complete, it is easy to get to work with it. Plug in the mains plug and turn on the drill press. Wait for it to run at full speed, then lower the bit to the workpiece by swinging the rotating handle. Once you are done drilling, release the pressure on the handle, and it will return to its original position thanks to the spring mechanism.
There is a lot more to say about the drill press. At this link, you will find a list of all the drill press articles I have published on this website, which can help you use this great tool.
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